A Temple Terrace man is working to democratize the fintech industry.
A self-described tech nerd, Brian Alvarez-Bailey has started a company that levels the playing field for non-techies in the financial space.
“I am not a traditional tech founder. I understand API [application programming interface] concepts. I understand software concepts, but I myself am not going … to write a software application,” Alvarez-Bailey says. “I wanted to see the fintech space cater to folks that were tech but did not want to write any code.”
His company Allison, which opened in October, allows a fintech app or service to connect to a community bank, facilitating deposits.
“Allison is the traffic cop that does all of the routing,” he explains. “Allison does all of the accounting inside of its system.”
Alvarez-Bailey, who attended Arizona State University, is building his connections with the banking industry and working to raise funds.
“Allison is a service for anyone in North America that wants to work with or needs the regulatory compliance of a U.S.-based bank,” he says.
Part of the no-code, low-code movement, Alvarez-Bailey was inspired by the website builder Webflow.
“I see Allison playing the role of Webflow in that it will allow founders in fintech finance and banking professions to create connections to new fintechs without ever having to write code,” he explains.
Saving time spent on development can be critical for startups, he notes.
“Even if you have a rockstar developer, there’s still a substantial amount of time that goes into building any web application,” he says.
Born on the southside of Chicago, Alvarez-Bailey landed in Tampa in summer 2020 and began consulting for various businesses through the Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council
. He’d scoped out Tampa at the end of 2019, and decided the timing was right after his condo flooded back in Illinois.
Alvarez-Bailey, who has lived in 30 different cities, found Tampa welcoming, and quickly built a network of connections.
“The thing that I think is neat about Tampa [is that] Tampa has a lot of existing resources,” he points out.
He’s tapped into Embarc Collective
, a Tampa Bay startup hub, and its Foundations program focusing on business basics. He’s also enjoyed mentorship from Dr. Rebecca White, director of the Entrepreneurship Center at The University of Tampa, through UT’s Spartan Incubator
. And he’s received mentorship from the University of South Florida’s Gilbert Gonzalez
, who taught him to regard himself as a doctor and his startup as a patient he needs to keep alive.
Though tech -- and helping others through it -- has been his passion since age 16, he didn’t always plan to make it his career.
“I actually wanted to be an actor when I was younger,” says Alvarez-Bailey, who played cameo roles while living in Austin before questioning whether it was worth his time. “My passion was to be in the movies.”
Right now, the 37-year-old is focusing his energies on developing Allison
, named after the late Alice Allison Dunnigan, the first black woman to cover White House news.
“Allison is my mission. I’m quite focused on making sure it gets to where I want it to go,” he says.
That takes up most of his time.
“I’m so focused on that that I really don’t have much of a personal life outside of that,” acknowledges Alvarez-Bailey, who is working with four contract workers.
Still, he is looking to give, not only to get.
“I want to use Allison as a tool. I don’t want Allison to be the end all be all,” he explains. “I want to actually help, to participate in what is already happening in Tampa.”
He foresees the prospect of helping to bridge the communications gap between the area’s startup resources and potential beneficiaries from minority groups. That could be by partnering with existing programs or even through his own accelerator serving fintech and other industries.
“I want to help support what they’re already doing. I want them to cast a wider net,” he says.
“I think for me there needs to be an emphasis on reaching communities that are not part of the median of American life, Black people, Hispanic people,” he says, “[those] not in social circles that connect them to money and power.”